Indian student wins bronze at the 14th International Linguistics Olympiad, held in Mysore

Bangalore, July 29, 2016: Aalok Sathe, a student from Pune, won a Bronze medal at the 14th International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL), which concluded in Mysore today. The top three individual scorers included Jaeyeong Yang from Republic of Korea, James Wedgwood from USA and Liam Robert McKnight from UK. Teams from Sweden, Australia and UK took the top three positions in the team contest.

The IOL, which is for secondary school students, has been held annually since its inception in 2003. It is one of the 12 international science Olympiads. Computational thinking, analytical reasoning and logical deduction were the focus of this year’s global competition, co-organized by Microsoft Research to encourage computational thinking and the study of linguistics among students.

Over 170 students representing 30 countries, including India, USA, Japan, Germany and Singapore among others, gathered to test their minds against the world’s toughest puzzles in language and linguistics. The event has been facilitating awareness of, and evoking interest in the scientific study of language among young change makers from different parts of the world.

Microsoft Research India has been actively engaged in promoting the Linguistic Olympiad in India, since 2013. This year, India was represented by 10 students shortlisted through the Panini Linguistic Olympiad (PLO), the national program for selection and training of the candidates for the IOL. Microsoft Research India has been one of the key drivers in establishing Linguistic Centers in five cities across India. Post selection, students are trained for the global meet at these centers. The group is also involved in promoting awareness among students and schools by hosting various events periodically, and by driving interest within institutes and companies in the country.

Commenting on the outcome, Dr. Monojit Choudhury, one of the co-chairs of the 14th IOL and Researcher at Microsoft Research India said, “Congratulations to the winners of the IOL! The IOL is perhaps unique as it does not require specialized knowledge of a particular field of study- instead, it tests and encourages logic and the reasoning skills of students. This kind of computational thinking skill is applicable across many different areas, including linguistics. We hope that the success of this IOL will significantly increase interest in the study of linguistics in the country.“

The five-day long event comprised two competitive individual tests, team contests, jeopardy-style quizzes and cultural performances introducing global students to the rich and diverse (cultural) heritage of India. Professor Anvita Abbi, recipient of the Padma Shri award, introduced the students to features of India as a linguistic area, and spoke about her experience with the fast vanishing languages of the Andamans – in her keynote address on ‘Unity in Diversity’. In parallel, internationally respected faculty and researchers from India, Russia, Bulgaria, and the US delivered lectures and shared their experiences on different aspects of Language and Computational Linguistics.

“The 14th instalment of IOL, held in the country that is the birthplace of linguistics, was brilliant.   This was also the first IOL at which a list of candidate host countries for several coming years could be composed. We are not only growing in numbers of participants; we have become a mature international science Olympiad, and things can only get better”, said Ivan Derzhanski, General Chairs of the 14th IOL.

Organized at the Infosys Campus in Mysore, the event was sponsored by Xerox Research Centre, ACM India, Tata Consultancy Services, and Microsoft Research Labs India. The national program in India is also supported by JNU Delhi, International Institute of Information technology – Hyderabad, University of Mumbai, and other regional coordinators such as Chennai Mathematical Institute, IIT Guwahati, SNLTR Kolkata, and IIT Patna.

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